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Rail News: Maintenance Of Way

UP to expand capacity in Louisiana, bolster track in California and Oregon


Yesterday, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and Union Pacific Railroad Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer Jim Young announced the Class I plans to spend $200 million to expand its south Louisiana operations.

The expansion plan includes three major projects: a new support yard in St. James Parish; an additional 29 miles of track from Livonia to Addis; and the addition of more staging slots in Livonia. The support yard will reduce train delays and increase fluidity, the double track will add capacity and reduce delays, and the staging slots will provide workers space to build and hold trains without interfering with regular traffic, UP officials said in a prepared statement. The work, which is slated for completion by year’s end, will help UP meet current and expected demand from petrochemical plants along the Mississippi River, they said.

"These investments reflect our commitment to build freight capacity that meets our customers’ needs while also promoting jobs and business growth in Louisiana,” said Young.

The expansion plan is in addition to regular infrastructure maintenance UP performs in Louisiana each year. In 2011, the Class I spent $56 million on capital improvements in the state; this year, the railroad plans to spend another $24 million. In the next several years, UP officials estimate the railroad will spend an additional $300 million on growth and maintenance projects in Louisiana beyond the $200 million on 2012 growth projects.

Meanwhile, UP also announced plans to spend $10.6 million to upgrade a 60-mile line between Santa Barbara and Camarillo, Calif., and $6.5 million to enhance the Kenton and Graham lines in the Portland, Ore., area.

To be completed by month’s end, the California project calls for replacing about 63,000 ties, installing more than 38,000 tons of ballast and renewing surfaces at 72 grade crossings. The Oregon project includes the installation of about 35,000 ties and 435 tons of ballast, surfacing work on 36 miles of track and surface renewals at 23 crossings. Tie installation and track surfacing in Portland is slated for completion in late February, while crossing renewal projects are scheduled to wrap up by mid-year.

The projects are part of UP’s $3.6 billion capital spending budget for 2012. The Class I’s capital and maintenance program budget exceeds the infrastructure spending of highway departments in 46 states, UP officials said.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 2/15/2012